September saw another win, if only temporarily, for Uber, the online transportation network company based in San Francisco that connects people in need of a ride with local drivers. A Quebec judge has denied a request from the Montreal taxi industry that would have seen Uber shut down in the province. Quebec recently struck a last minute, one year deal allowing Uber to operate inside the province.
The company operates in more than 500 major cities all over the world, including St. Catharines, offering easy access to employment to nearly anyone over the age of 21 who owns a car without the expense and hassle of working for a licensed taxi company. Drivers pick their own hours and are responsible for all car-related maintenance, since the cars belong to them, not the company.
Montreal cab drivers are arguing that the deal made with Uber drivers is unfair to them, allowing Uber drivers to acquire licensing for a much lower rate and therefore giving them an unfair advantage over those who have been working in the taxi industry for years. Cab drivers filed an injunction against Quebec transport minister Laurent Lessard, saying that creating this deal with Uber was outside of his powers.
The judge in the case, however, did not see it the same way, and denied the taxi industry’s wishes. As of Sept. 29, Uber with the proper licenses will now be legal in Quebec.
This is not the first time Uber and the taxi industry have come to blows. According to The Telegraph, as of 2015 Uber had been involved in more than 70 confrontations and have been sued by city governments and taxi companies several times. Issues ranging from improper licensing and setting excessive fares to drivers not knowing their way around have cropped in many cities where Uber operates. The company has also faced lawsuits related to the way it interacts with it’s employees, who are not in fact employees at all but rather independent contractors. Other ride-sharing companies such as Lyft experience similar conflicts with the taxi industry.
Despite all the controversy, Uber is reported to be worth over $28 billion USD and is consistently expanding services to new cities.